“This man was listening to Paul as he spoke . . .” Acts 13:9
The primary organ for receiving God’s revelation is not the eye that sees, but the ear that hears, which means our concept of God comes from hearing. It’s listening that gives birth to faith. God is speaking, just imagine Him swinging a pickax, digging ears in our granite blockheads so we can hear, really hear, what He speaks to us. Preaching has always been primary to helping people perceive the presence of God.
Paul and Barnabas followed their usual practice of going first to the synagogue to preach where many Jews believed, but many did not, resulting in Paul and Barnabas moving on to new listeners. They begin to preach to a totally new group who did not have the foundation of the Jewish faith. So they begin at the beginning by explaining who God is.
The interesting thing about this sermon is it’s about God. Yet, there’s no mention of Christ, no crucifixion, no resurrection. The reason is obvious, the Gentile audience had no knowledge of God. Before Paul could tell them about the revelation of God that was in Jesus, he first had to tell them something about God. It’s impossible to preach about God becoming incarnate, if you have no real God to become incarnate.
Today we find ourselves in the same situation. Because of materialism, greed, and want, most people have little, if any, sense of God to begin with. The first thing, we must do is awaken the mind and the hearts of those to whom we speak, to the awe and reverence which the thought of the presence of God evokes.
All our faith in Christ, all our understanding of His actions, words, and His heartbeat to reach towards us, in love and redemption through the cross, all rests against the backdrop of God. Such a sense of the overruling purpose of God precedes any deep understanding of the incarnation.
We must open our ears and listen again, lean close enough in to hear heaven whisper into our ears “God loves you.”
What do we mean by the phrase, “personal God?”